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North Shore Morning

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News and information, interviews, weather, upcoming events, music, school news, and many special features. North Shore Morning includes our popular trivia question - Pop Quiz! The North Shore Morning program is the place to connect with the people, culture and events of our region!

 


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Superior National Forest Update: March 25

Hi.  I’m Mary Ann Atwood, administrative support assistant on the Gunflint Ranger District, with the National Forest Update - information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the Gunflint and Tofte Districts of the Superior National Forest.
For late March and early April, here’s what’s happening on the Forest.
Spring brings a variety of changes from natural to regulatory. 
In the natural world, birds are migrating.
According to the American Bird Conservancy, the Superior National Forest is one of 100 globally important bird areas, an ideal location for bird-watching!
While in the Duluth area you may hear the Konka-ree spring song of the red wing blackbird as well as a symphony of other spring migrating species.  Along the north shore…the warblers will soon be on their way…
Birds, including eagles, that winter in the northland, are busy laying eggs or caring for their hatchlings.  The Highway 61 eagle’s nest just south of Grand Marais was lost in a recent wind storm, however the eagles are busy rebuilding in the same area.
The DNR reports active bears near Hibbing raiding bird feeders.  Might be a good time to quit feeding, or take your feeders inside at night unless you want to provide breakfast for a newly-awakened hungry bear.
Human activity also changes in the spring
While driving forest roads, be mindful of soft spots, eroded shoulders, and possible flooding from plugged culverts.  Please report any major problems on forest service roads to district offices.
Weight restrictions on gravel roads are in effect in both Lake and Cook Counties.  While some logging operations continue in the forest, logging trucks will NOT be on the roads. 
Spring brings changes: Fire & Ice
Ice houses on non-Canadian border waters should have been removed by March 21st.  Ice houses on Canadian border lakes need to be removed by March 31st.   
In southern Minnesota early ice out dates have been reported. That may or may not be the case for our northern lakes.  If the ice on your favorite lake was safe in March 2015, it may not be safe in March 2016.
2016 fishing licenses went into effect at the beginning of March. Check the DNR’s 2016 fishing regulations before heading out.  You can get a copy of the fishing regs at Forest District offices or on-line at mndnr.gov.
If attempting a last bit of winter fun - skiing or snowmobiling - you may encounter trees and branches have fallen across trails.  Deadfalls may not be cleared for several weeks.
Spring weather means the Forest Service will no longer be grooming the George Washington Pines cross country ski trail system.
Snow depths in the forest range from non-existent to DEEP.  Timber crews, working 20 miles inland, report snow depths of two feet and continue to wear snowshoes as they accomplish their tasks.   
The DNR started burning restrictions in the central part of the state on March 21st.  As of this recording, burning is still permitted in Lake and Cook Counties.  Check with the DNR or a Forest Service office for current restrictions before you burn.
In the immortal words of Yogi Bera, when describing changes in spring weather, “It was a dry rain.”
Until next time, this has been Mary Ann Atwood with the National Forest Update.
 

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West End News: March 24

Cook County Sheriff Pat Eliasen will be presenting information regarding scams that are being perpetrated on local citizens, especially senior citizens, in a talk at the Cook County Senior Center in Grand Marais on Wednesday, April 13th starting at 12:30 pm.  He’ll share information on what the most popular scams are, how to recognize them and how to avoid being taken in.  There will be time for questions after the presentation.
 
I just finished reading a fascinating book called, “The Confidence Game” by Maria Konnikova.  Ms Konnikova delves deeply into the psychology of scams, why they’re so common and why they are so successful.
 
Although the term “confidence game” only dates back to the mid-1800s, the technique of swindling people by gaining their confidence goes back to earliest recorded human history and most likely quite a bit farther back than that.
 
“Confidence game” was coined by a scammer in New York City who would approach strangers on the street, strike up a friendly conversation and then ask them if they had the “confidence” to loan him their watch until the next day.  By appearing reasonable, friendly and trustworthy, he had a nearly perfect record of talking people into loaning him their watches, which they never saw again.
 
The stages of a successful swindle are pretty standard.  It starts with careful observation and gathering information about the victim or mark.  The victim is approached in an innocent and friendly way, to establish a small kernel of trust.  Then the victim is invited to participate in an activity that will benefit them in a small, but certain way.  The scheme quickly and easily earns the mark a little money, further cementing the trust between the new friends.  This step is often repeated, with the payouts getting slightly bigger each time.  The next step is a manufactured crisis, seeming to put both the scammer and mark in serious danger of losing everything. The biggest step comes when the scammer miraculously finds a way out of trouble for everyone.  All the mark has to do is temporarily put up a large sum of money, which the scammer often will match, promising a way out of the dilemma, with a huge payout as a bonus.  Of course, the money and the scammer disappear forever, leaving the mark much poorer and very embarrassed.  Many scammers add an additional step, called “the fix” where they manipulate the mark into the decision not to report the crime. By some estimates, more than half of criminal scams are never reported.
 
It turns out that confidence swindlers are actually taking advantage of some nearly universal quirks of the human brain.  Although effective scamming was no doubt developed by trial and error, it has long become so sophisticated that it is nearly impossible to resist. 
 
Think about magic shows that you have seen.  Magicians, or illusionists as they are sometimes called, can make you believe that they are doing impossible things before your very eyes. They are exploiting the same brain quirks and bits of human behavior that the scammers do.  The difference is that illusionists do it for entertainment and acknowledge that they are fooling you.  Scammers take your money and ruin your life.
 
I am personally amazed that someone can be so cold as to make their living by taking advantage of others, especially the most vulnerable members of our society.  As it turns out, one of the major traits that define a psychopath is a complete lack of empathy for others.  While not all psychopaths are scammers, all scammers are, at least to some degree, psychopaths.
 
Of course, Konnikova’s book goes into much more detail, especially in looking at how modern brain science is revealing how the hard wired parts of our nature allow the con artists to take advantage of us.
 
All of this leads me back to Sheriff Eliasen’s important upcoming presentation.  The only effective way to avoid being scammed is to educate yourself about common scams and the methods behind them.  Armed with that knowledge, you are not only less likely to fall for a scam, but the con artists will recognize your knowledge in the early stages of their game, which makes you a risky mark for them. They will likely move on to another, more naïve victim, before you even know that you’ve been targeted.
 
I hope Sheriff Eliasen will repeat his talk in the West End soon.  If you want more information about the April 13th session, call the Sheriff’s Department or WTIP.
 
On a more pleasant subject, the word is out that conditions are quite good on local snowmobile and ski trails.  Inland lakes are also in good condition for recreation travel right now and will probably stay that way for a couple of weeks.  Downhill skiers are reporting nearly perfect conditions at Lutsen Mountains.  With the longer, warmer days ahead, it is the perfect time to get outside and enjoy the fabulous West End.
 
For WTIP, this is Bill Hansen with the West End News.
 
 
 

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Snowbank Lake

A Year in the Wilderness: March 21 - Rain on the Tent

Cook County adventurers Dave and Amy Freeman are spending a year in the wilderness. On a regular basis they’ll be sharing some of their experiences traveling the BWCAW.

(Photo courtesy of Dave and Amy's Facebook page)

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Birch Grove Community School

School News from Birch Grove: March 22

Sophia and Jack report the latest School News.

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Scorpius_John Flannery_Flickr.jpg

Northern Sky: March 19

Deane Morrison is a science writer at the University of Minnesota. She authors the Minnesota Starwatch column, and contributes to WTIP bi-weekly on the Monday North Shore Morning program through "Northern Sky," where she shares what's happening with stars, planets and more.

The Spring Equinox and March winds; Jupiter all night long; in the predawn sky, Mars and Saturn with Scorpius; a full moon on the morning of March 23.

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Wildersmith on the Gunflint: March 18

It’s frightful what’s been going on in the north woods since we last met on the radio. Over the past seven, with temps some twenty degrees above normal, there’s a scent of spring in the air, but it’s supposed to be winter! There’s just no seasonal bite anymore.                                                                                                                                                                                  
All this being about six weeks early, the upper Gunflint is flat out into our icky ice and mud scene. Locally, we in the Wildersmith neighborhood are being terrorized with the worst case of slippery wet conditions in seventeen years. Movement out of doors has been at no more than snails’ pace, either on foot or in the vehicle, for fear of ending up on ones’ posterior or careening off into the woods on wheels.                                                                                                                                      
Improvements are slow to happen as areas along the shaded, Mile O Pine have been spared the power of “Old Sol” to some extent. Slow melting has allowed daily oozing which then has been re-freezing to skating like surfaces by the next AM. This is further complicated by a few open places where beaming rays have gashed the frozen surface with patches of bare road. So one moment, one can splash along safely, only to end up slip sliding along on water slick ice.                                                                                             
At the time of this broadcast/scribing, the Wildersmith driveway remains a slippery path to vehicle disaster with all friction applications being of little support. That in mind, the truck sits on high ground until further notice.                                                                                                                                                           
The wilderness landscape has become a patchwork of white and brown. In our yard, it is interesting to assess how winter winds dispersed the snow. Spots where gusts had direct access a thin coating has easily been whisked away by our meltdown. Meanwhile protected places have substantial white remnants, in spite of being reduced by a considerable amount during the past days.             
Observing sunrise on the morning before daylight savings time, confirmed to me spring is now in command. Beams of light lit up the forest and revealed the first return of arachnids. Their network of fiber optics is already strung between our coniferous appendages. It was quite surprising to see the filaments so soon.                                                                                           
Even more startling, a couple creepy crawlers have made illegal entry into our house, yuck!  At ground level, a “murder” of crows has returned and is busy picking through winter remains while breaking silence of the neighborhood with raucous conversation.                                                                                                        
Another sign of more “Vernal” times finds tree juices thawed to resume the flow skyward. This is evident as the snow has melted away from the base of trees creating interesting tube like exposures of bare forest earth in the white.                                                                                                                                                  
In another moment of flowing spring energy, a couple fellows down the road have tapped their way into several Mile O Pine maples. This collecting process is obviously in quest of sweet nectar for syrup making.                                                                                 
The fisher that had been making appearances at several locations down the road recently made its way to the Smith place. This large version of a pine marten apparently knew its way around here perhaps affirming a previous visit. Unfortunately, all the cupboards were bare as it arrived checking out each feeding station. With noses pressed to the window glass watching such an uncommon visitor, this ferocious critter seemingly gave a glance our way, as if to say “where’s the beef” and then scampered off into the forest.                                                                                                                                           
A few days later the maple sap collectors mentioned earlier had an exciting moment when they happened upon a Canadian Lynx. The handsome feline was caught in a sitting pose either sunning itself along the county road or doing a little hare reconnaissance. It was interesting the north woods cat did not make a move until the fellas were about six feet away before loping off into the trees toward Gunflint Lake.                                                                                                                                                                              
In a sad note, “Dog Days of Winter” activities scheduled on Poplar Lake last Sunday, went for naught. A casualty of all this warm sloppiness, events had to be cancelled. Hopefully energy for this event carries over to next year with hope for revival of a real “Northwoods” winter.                 
Before signing off…after all this talk of spring being in the air, winter has come back.  A falling of some twelve to fourteen inches of snow covered the Wildersmith neighborhood and has put things on hold once more.
This is Fred Smith, on the Trail, at Wildersmith. Regretting a winter lost, but savoring a re-birth of the forest! 

(photo by Phillippa Warr via Flickr)

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When not chasing rabbits, pine martens can sometimes be found eating bird seed

West End News: March 17

 
Everyone was pleasantly surprised this week by the announcement from Cliffs Natural Resources that they would re-open Northshore Mining in mid-May.  The plant in Silver Bay has been in shutdown since December, causing the layoff of 540 employees.  The good news came because the domestic steel market has picked up a little faster than many industry experts were predicting. Even the threat of curtailing sales of below cost steel from foreign producers seems to have perked up the market, along with a number of other factors.
 
The bottom line for the West End, though, is that many of our immediate friends and neighbors will be back to work full time – and that’s a relief.
 
I was a little distressed to hear that the Silver Bay city council banned the sale of Bent Paddle Beer in their municipal liquor store. The reason given was Bent Paddle’s membership in the Downstream Business Coalition, which is a group of about 80 regional businesses that support clean water and sustainable economic development. Full disclosure: I’m a member of the coalition, so I’m biased on this subject. However, I think the city council would reconsider if they could have a good conversation with the fine folks at Bent Paddle Brewery. The coalition is very supportive of iron mining and doesn’t even oppose sulfide mining. It is just opposed to the risk of water pollution that historically accompanies sulfide mining.
 
It’s all a bit of a tempest in a teapot, but I would like to point out that the only purchase that I made in the Silver Bay liquor store this year was a couple of cases of Bent Paddle Beer. I do think, no matter where people stand on the sulfide mining issue, that spirited discussion is healthy for our communities and people should not be threatened with business retaliation for their honestly held political opinions.
 
Mining news continued last week with a couple of serious setbacks for the proposed Twin Metals mining project near Ely. Governor Dayton wrote a public letter to the company expressing his grave concerns about sulfide mining directly upstream from the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.  The Governor said he was unwilling to allow the risk of pollution in the wilderness, calling it “a crown jewel of Minnesota.”
 
Just a few days later, the Bureau of Land Management denied automatic renewal of two key federal mineral leases that have been held by Twin Metals for decades. These two developments, along with a depressed global metals market, may well spell the end for the Twin Metals project, at least for the foreseeable future. Time will only tell.
 
The 2016 Great Place Project is accepting applications until the end of March. The Great Place Project a collaborative effort of the Cook County Chamber of Commerce and the Sawtooth Mountain Clinic’s Moving Matters initiative. The Great Place Project is a friendly, local opportunity for funding of high impact, low cost ideas to create great places in our communities. Funding amounts range from $250 to $1,250 per selected project. This year, the Minnesota Power Foundation has joined as a major sponsor of the Great Place Project.
 
The theme for 2016 is “playability.” Projects that enhance or create a place that welcomes people with a playfulness or whimsy, especially for children, will be favored. You can find more details, examples and some really fun and well-produced videos by googling “Great Place Project – Cook County.”
 
It was a good week for animal viewing on the back roads. I saw a pine marten chasing a snowshoe hare down the road. The pine marten ducked into the woods as I drew near, but the exhausted rabbit could barely climb over the snow-bank. Moments later I passed a second marten that was closing in on the rabbit from the other direction. I have little doubt that the rabbit became lunch not too long after I passed.
 
The next day I saw three lynx on the road. The largest of the three cats stayed on the road, but kept glancing toward the woods, where I spotted two adolescent kittens. Once the kittens ran off, the adult followed, disappearing with two effortless leaps.
 
It’s always a thrill to see wildlife in the woods. It reminds me why we love living here in the West End.
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Construction on new Two Harbors location

"Hunger Hero" initiative will aid local residents

March is National Food Shelf Month and the North Shore Federal Credit Union is offering to match donations as part of its "Hunger Hero" initiative.

President Mark Summers spoke with WTIP volunteer Yvonne Mills about this initiative on North Shore Morning.

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"What the Health?! How do we plan for Community Vitality?" presentation on March 23

"What the Health?! How do we plan for Community Vitality?" is the topic of an evening of improvisational theater, discussion and dinner. WTIP volunteer Yvonne Mills learns more in this interview with Kristin DeArruda Wharton and Tane Danger.

The Sawtooth Mountain Clinic is sponsoring “What the Health?! How do we plan for community vitality?” on March 23 at 5:30 pm at the Arrowhead Center for the Arts. Childcare will be provided, and RSVP by calling 387-2330, ext. 163.
 

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School News from Oshki Ogimaag: March 15

Kiara reports the latest School News.

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